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University of Iowa will see construction boom in 2023
Work will pave the way for a new inpatient tower in 2025
- The University of Iowa will start work on hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects next year.
- The projects address everything from health care expansions and academic buildings, to athletic facilities.
- UI officials say funding for the projects will come from donors, state funding, hospital revenue and other sources that include athletic income.
- Next year's projects will pave the way for construction of a new UIHC inpatient tower that's estimated to cost nearly $621 million in the next five years.
IOWA CITY — Construction of a University of Iowa inpatient tower on its main medical campus — first unveiled in January as part of a 10-year master plan — is expected to start just two years, in 2025.
And in 2023, the UI will kick start hundreds of millions of dollars in construction to either enable that massive project or propel a west campus transformation for expanded health care access, increased academic opportunities and amplified athletic experiences.
“It’s an exciting time to be a Hawkeye and to witness the campus transformation that will take place beginning in 2023,” according to a UI summary of the work to ensue. “Projects will include state-of-the-art buildings, equipment, learning spaces, and other amenities.”
Crews will begin or continue work on a new parking ramp; a larger water tower; a new west campus academic building; a renovated Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Building; the inpatient addition in the UI hospital’s south wing; and an expanded emergency room.
UI Hospitals and Clinics also is planning a $95 million “vertical expansion” of its existing main-campus inpatient tower — adding two floors, 24 intensive care unit beds and more patient space on renovated floors below.
The university plans to finish that vertical expansion in 2025, just as it starts building the new tower. Although officials haven’t yet sought Board of Regents design or budget approval, they recently revealed through a facilities master plan expectations to spend $620.9 million on the new tower over the next five budget years.
“The tower will add more beds for UI Hospitals & Clinics, which is consistently at or above capacity,” according to the UI summary. “The additional space will significantly improve operations and help the hospital to continue providing access and care for complex patients who come from every county in Iowa.”
Officials warned all the construction could cause some “short-term disruption for students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors.”
“As with any major construction project, we will put a high priority on minimizing the impact for our campus community, patients, and visitors,” Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations and university architect, said in a statement. “These temporary inconveniences are enabling an exciting campus transformation that will benefit generations to come.”
The west campus construction comes in addition to massive projects UIHC is pursuing off its main campus — like a $525.6 million hospital campus in North Liberty, at Forevergreen Road and Highway 965. That project is expected to wrap in 2025, alongside many of the enabling and transformative west-side projects.
Projects upcoming or in the works include:
- A $65 million “Hawkeye Ramp” just north of Kinnick Stadium on Lot 43 will connect to the existing hospital skywalk and add about 900 parking spaces “serving primarily university faculty and staff working on the hospital campus.” Construction is expected to begin in May and finish in winter 2024.
- A new west campus academic building will house UI’s Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center and its Communication Sciences and Disorders program, along with the campus’ Health and Human Physiology and physical therapy programs. Construction on the site of the existing South Quad Residence Hall and adjacent parking lot is expected to start in summer 2023 and wrap in 2025.
- The university is renovating its Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Building to become the new home of Iowa’s Military Science and ROTC program, with completion expected in spring 2023. That recently went out for bid for $2 million.
- A $24.6 million emergency room renovation and expansion would be in two phases. Construction on its north side begins in February and wrap in November 2024. Work on its south side would start in May and finish in April 2024.
- The $95 million vertical expansion of UIHC’s existing inpatient tower is in the planning phases, with expectations of completion in 2025.
- An $8 million project to convert the second level of UIHC’s south wing into 13 inpatient rooms is being planned, with construction expected to start in spring 2023.
- UIHC also wants to spend $2.3 million building a new “ophthalmology simulation lab” on a lower level of its Parking Ramp 4 — renovating storage space for a wet lab where students could conduct dissections and other simulated surgical procedures.
- And UI has aired plans to spend $212 million over the next five years on a new “modern health care research facility,” scheduled to start in 2024 and end in 2027.
To make all that happen, among other things, UI over the next five years plans to raze 300,000 square feet of dated or defunct space — including its Hospital Parking Ramp 1, current Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center and the South Quad dorms. The university has taken down 200,000 square feet over the last three years in trying to “right size” its campus.
Among westside infrastructure and equipment-related projects upcoming are three totaling nearly $13 million, approved in some capacity at regents meetings in September and November.
- One estimated to cost up to $5.6 million will be the first of four hospital elevator modernization projects. That first modernization would upgrade three elevators with new control systems, doors, cables, call buttons and other amenities.
- An initiative to upgrade HVAC systems throughout the Medical Laboratories building is expected to cost $4.5 million.
- And a $2.8 million UIHC operating room modification project would add X-ray equipment, surgical amenities, lighting and flooring — maximizing the room’s capabilities “to support a wide range of surgical procedures, improved patient outcomes, and better room utilization.”
In anticipation of the UIHC-associated construction, administrators in September sought regent approval to move forward with the second phase of a “UIHC Emergency Generator Facility” project. Just the second phase to construct a 10,000-square-foot addition to the existing emergency power generation facility is expected to cost nearly $45 million. A third phase would add a third generator, and the fourth phase would add another facility “to support emergency power generators for the new UIHC inpatient tower.”
“Funding for this project has been long-planned within the hospital’s capital and operating budgets and this project is already incorporated into the financial models and operating margins,” according to board documents.
UI officials report projects will be funded with a mix of donor dollars, state support, hospital revenue and other sources — including athletics income for the handful of Hawkeye athletics projects also materializing on the campus’ west side.
Those include a new $31.6 million Hawkeye wrestling facility, $5.8 million upgrade to UI’s recreation fields, a $20 million renovation of Duane Banks Field and possible upgrades to its softball, field hockey and track and field complexes.
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